Fixtures vs.Bulbs – Costs and Benefits

There are a number of reasons to consider new LED fixtures for your business. It may be that you still haven’t moved over from traditional incandescents and/or fluorescents. But more likely, you’re making changes in the work environment—a remodel, expansion, taking on a new property, simply changing who works where in the building, etc.—and you have an opportunity to make major changes to the lighting setup. But should you replace the fixtures, or simply use LED bulbs in your current lights?

With the right choice, you can enjoy savings for years. Let’s take a look at the options, pros and cons.

LED Bulbs
In this scenario, you leave your current fixtures in place, then simply use off-the-shelf LED bulbs.

Pros
This option usually has a much lower upfront cost. It’s also a simple change you can make right this minute, and you won’t have to hire a contractor or deal with any demolition. The bulb approach is also more versatile, allowing you to change the color, lumen output, and other qualities of your lights whenever you wish.

Cons
With long-lasting LED’s you won’t have to change bulbs often, but you will have to change them. That means expense for bulbs and labor. That can mean a larger long-run expense.

Pursue This Option If…

  • You have concerns about initial cost.
  • You need to move to LED’s quickly.
  • You have a small or even a relatively small number of lights. Changing bulbs in a garage bay every few years is a small labor investment; a warehouse or office building is another matter.

LED Fixtures
In this scenario, you replace all fixtures with LED fixtures that have integral LED arrays instead of bulbs.

Pros
It will be at least 20 years before you have to perform any maintenance—in other words, no bulb changing, which means lower costs over the life of the fixture and no safety issues. These fixtures are also available in a wide range of styles, so if you’re updating the decor of your space as well as the technology, you’ll find just the right lighting fit.

Cons
As we mentioned, this option has a higher upfront cost and usually requires professional electricians and some careful planning. You will also have to replace the entire fixture in 20+ years. Lastly, the color, brightness and other qualities are fixed unless you undertake the expense to replace them all.

Pursue This Option If…

  • You’re building or remodeling, making it less troublesome to replace fixtures..
  • You’re sure the lighting needs for each space will be stable.
  • You prefer lower long-run costs to lower upfront costs.
  • You have a large number of lights.

Still undecided? Here’s the tie-breaker!
Though all fixtures are long-lasting, the bottom line is that the ones you have will need replacement eventually. Replacing them one at a time can be problematic—try finding an exact match for a 40 year old fixture! Replacing all at once means you’re dealing with the high upfront expense you were trying to avoid.